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Bellevue Gold is studying options to toll treat the anticipated ore stockpile at its namesake project in Western Australia ahead of commissioning the processing plant.

The decision to toll treat – processing the ore at an external mill – was made in light of the strong progress being made on underground development, which is comfortably ahead of schedule at 6.7 kilometres. The progress rate has been further enhanced with the delivery of a second drilling jumbo in October 2022.

Mining is scheduled to start ore driving in the Upper Armand areas this month which will in turn will increase the number of available headings and increase development rates.

Sequential opening up of the five independent work areas is on track, with Armand reached in late July and Bellevue South scheduled for early 2023.

Bellevue managing director Steve Parsons said it was increasingly clear that there may be an opportunity to accelerate the start of cashflow due to the significant ore stockpile expected to be accumulated before plant commissioning gets underway.

‘We are now studying options for toll treating in the region and considering the benefits this scenario could deliver for our cash position,” he said.

“We may also have the option of accelerating mine development given the outstanding progress made to date. However, the cost of this strategy would need to be more than offset by the immediate cashflow benefits.”

The forecast stockpile is set to exceed 200,000 tonnes at 5 grams per tonne gold, which will be partly the result of mining the planned Vanguard open pit that is set to commence in the first quarter of next year.

The mined Vanguard pit will then be transformed into the tailings dam for plant commissioning.

In addition to the rapid rate of underground development, plant construction is also advancing quickly, putting Bellevue on track for first production in the second half of CY2023. The project remains well funded with $277.3 million of available liquidity as at September 30.